April 6, 2014 Subject:
Additional suggestions for research related to William Sargant
This is not exactly a review of the documentary to which I have just listened, much of which was already familiar, some of which was new, and nothing with which I would disagree: but there are many unanswered questions. I want to mention a few significant points which might lead other researchers towards further clarification.
(i) One of the unanswered questions is whether Sargant was working with or for intelligence agencies such as MI5 or CIA. The 'sleep room' at St Thomas's hospital seemed to have been closed down with rather precipitate haste, sometime in 1973. Consider what was happening at the time across the Atlantic - the gradual unfolding of the Watergate crisis in which the CIA was closely implicated. I understand that in January of that year, the Director of the CIA ordered the destruction of documents related to its own controversial 'research' program named MKULTRA (some of which used methods similar to Sargant'), perhaps in anticipation of what was to happen later that year - President Nixon replacing the head of CIA - with someone else, intent on reforming the agency. When the sleep room at St Thomas's was closed down later that same year, likewise the documentation on what went on there seems to have disappeared. Coincidence? Perhaps the same motive?
(ii) The links between Sargant and the work of Harry Bailey at Chelmsford seem clearly established, as are those for Ewan Cameron's work in Montreal. . . but there is another white Commonwealth country whose psychiatry might have been infiltrated - New Zealand. At Cherry Farm hospital in the South Island of New Zealand, in the 1970s - actually between 1973 and 1978 - a version of Deep Sleep Therapy was used in several wards, according to a later government report. A Master's thesis on the efficacy (or otherwise) of those treatments was written, but, curiously, seems to have disappeared from Otago University library. The doctor immediately responsible for the deep sleep therapy - whose names was redacted in the official report - was relatively junior at the time. Those who initiated, advised, and bore ultimate responsibility for this practice (and the funders) have never been publicly revealed. I mention 'funders', because, to my knowledge, no-one died at Cherry Farm, so the intensive care nursing must have been of high standard. This would have cost money. Whose money? The most senior psychiatrist in New Zealand at the time, Professor Basil James, located at Otago Medical School, had, before he came to New Zealand published case reports on aversion therapy to cure homosexuality, and also on abreaction therapy for a survivor from war-related trauma (an area in which Sargant himself had made his name). These three papers, from 1961,1962 and 1964 cite a number of Sargant's papers, including 'Battle for the Mind'. Is there a pattern here, of collaboration between military intelligence agencies of several affiliated nations in 'research' projects, related to brain washing? Could it be that 'research' on Deep Sleep Therapy continued in 1973, far away in New Zealand, when it was becoming impossible to do it elsewhere? All this information is on open access, for which I can provide full documentation for interested investigators. All I do is attempt to 'join the dots'.